The agency responsible for most of Canada’s blood supply says people who have traveled outside of Canada, the continental United States and Europe will be ineligible to give blood for 21 days after their return.
Canadian Blood Services says it is implementing the waiting period to mitigate the risk of the Zika virus entering the Canadian blood supply.
In a release Wednesday, the agency said the new waiting period is being implemented across the country and will take full effect in all of its clinics starting on Feb. 5.
Quebec’s blood operator, Hema-Quebec, will be implementing the same change as of this Sunday.
Canadian Blood Services says the 21-day period ensures enough time has passed for the virus to be eliminated from a person’s bloodstream, but it is asking people to postpone donation for at least a month after returning from travel outside the specified zones.
“This new temporary deferral period will safeguard Canada’s blood supply against the Zika virus, and will also help us protect against other similar mosquito-borne viruses,” Dr. Dana Devine, chief medical and scientific officer for Canadian Blood Services, said in a statement.